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on Feb 27, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Light Time With a Critter

Boreal Owl
captured by D5 / 180-400VR / TC-14eIII

It was on our last morning at Zax-sim Bog, it was the ninth time in a week we had checked the Admiral Feeders looking for it, not finding it the first eight attempts. The ninth time, literally driving to the airport, we stopped one last time and we finally saw the magical Boreal Owl. The feeders are literally on the side of the road, behind them is the boreal forest of Minnesota. In theory, you literally wouldn’t have to get out of your car to see or photograph the Owl, if he’s there. We drove down the road to see a group they’re doing exactly as we desired, taking in the Boreal Owl. And that was the greatest gift the Boreal Owl gave us, time!

Boreal Owl
captured by D5 / 180-400VR / TC-14eIII

I stood there hand-holding the D5 / 180-400VR (with its 1.4x engaged) and TC-14eIII attached at this little gem in the viewfinder looking at the boreal forest thinking, “How am I going to smack you, the viewer right between the eyes with this little guy AND speak of its world?” See all the textures in the owl’s world, they are very intriguing and visually eye-catching. The Owl is meant to blend into this world. Luckily, the light pattern was slightly to the side which makes all those textures come to life. With the luxury of time the Owl gave us (we stood there in the cold for a few hours), I could decide what was going to make the best light for the story?

Boreal Owl
captured by D5 / 180-400VR / TC-14eIII

I’ve posted just three of the varying light patterns to give you an idea of how time changed the story. I know which I like, which tells the story I want to tell the best, what would you pick? One light, the trees are more in the shadows. In another light, you have more visual depth in the photo and the other, it’s a little flatter. So my whole point is when you have the time to spend with a critter after you have a couple of clicks, don’t say, “I’ve got that photo and move on” but rather say, “With time, how will the light improve my storytelling?”

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